I was reading a couple of articles today about why people get married. One article from the NY Times, “In the Season of Marriage, a Question. Why Bother?,” suggested that in our current era, people get married for much different reasons than their parents or their grandparents. For example, marriage seems like the next logical step after, especially if you and your partner already have a child and, or were living together. However, financial success seems to drive , the “getting hitched” decision. The article also implied that college educated individuals are more likely to get married than those without a college degree. Moreover, those who have steady, gainful employment and a higher income are more decided about exchanging marriage vows. Interestingly, love was not mentioned at all in the article.
I also thought about why people stay married. It seems that some people stay married, even if they are unhappy, out of financial insecurity, fear of change, negative impact on the kids, or the hope that maybe things will get better. Again, the article mentioned nothing about love. In both cases, financial reasons seem to be an underlying factor for getting and staying married. But, is that all there really is?
When I ask people what are good reasons to get married, the number one response I receive is because you love the person. Additionally, marriage offers legal protection, social and financial stability, psychological support, and well-being when things are going in a positive direction. When you are in love, really and truly in love, marriage can offer you the extraordinary opportunity to share your life with someone. Marriage is a spiritual, emotional, and physical relationship with another being that can make life worth living. When marriage does not go as planned, when spouses fall out of love, if there are financial difficulties, and stress, marriage can seem like a prison. Actually, I have had clients state that they felt trapped when their marriage was in an unhealthy place. But, when couples are stable in most areas of their lives, along with being in love, their marriage bond has the fortitude to last longer.
At one time or another, a marriage can be challenged. Partners grow in different life directions. But the key to a happy, lasting marriage is having a strong foundation. In other words, getting married for the right reasons, such as being in love, having similar values and motivation, wanting to build a life together, all contribute to a good start to build from. Also, being friends with your spouse is very important. My clients who report that their spouses are their best or closest friend also report being very happy with life, as well as have the tendency to be emotionally resilient when their marriages go through a stressful or challenging period.
Yes, you cannot live on love alone, and even the strongest marriage can break due to financial hardships, infidelity, or another significantly troublesome events. Likewise, if the relationship is mentally and physically unhealthy, it is better not to marry or to dissolve the marriage. But, a combination of love, friendship, and stability provides the best reasons for getting and staying married. When you perceive marriage as a meaningful, purposeful and important aspect of a romantic relationship, not to mention understand it has legal consequences, you learn to respect its institution. Yes, the divorce rate is high, but it does not have to be. Let’s start by getting married and staying married for realistic, but good reasons that include loving the other person.
If you are about to get married, just married, or have been married for a while, feel free to leave a comment by answering one of the following questions: Why did you get married? Why do you want to get married? Why do you stay married? Or, simply leave your thoughts and comments about marriage?